- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 13, 2013

Russia’s ban on U.S. adoptions could be part of a strategy to boost the country’s diminishing demographic profile, a U.S. political science professor says.

The former Soviet republic’s population is projected to plummet from 140 million “to 104 million by 2050,” Paul Kengor wrote Jan. 8 for the Catholic Exchange.

Because of Russians’ “astonishingly high” use of abortion and birth control, their country “continues to hemorrhage population,” wrote Mr. Kengor, executive director for the Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College in Pennsylvania.

“How might the adoption ban fit into this? Russians [adopted] by foreigners — especially by Americans — means more Russians leaving Russia. By banning adoptions, [President Vladimir] Putin’s country can retain more Russians.

“There may be a measure of pure demographics and nationalism behind his decision,” he wrote.

Lawmakers from Mr. Putin’s United Russia party pushed for the ban, which was approved nearly unanimously. One party lawmaker said that a similar ban on adoptions by other foreign nations also will be put forward.

Political leaders have expressed alarm over Russia’s fertility rate, which, at 1.5 children per woman, is among the lowest in the world. Mr. Putin himself said Russia’s shrinking population is the nation’s “most acute problem” in 2006, when he asked parliament to develop a 10-point program to halt the decline.

Still, U.S. adoptions wouldn’t put a dent in Russia’s population: Fewer than 1,000 Russian children were brought to America in 2011, according to State Department figures, and advocates estimate that about 60,000 Russian children have been adopted by Americans in the last 20 years.

Meanwhile, Mr. Putin has called for the Russian birthrate to grow by at least 25 percent by 2015, and lawmakers have enacted restrictions on abortion, including severe limits on the procedure after 12 weeks of pregnancy. The Russian government also has instituted policies that provide cash grants for births, longer paid-maternity leaves and subsidies for child day care.

The measures appear promising: About 1.8 million Russian babies were born in 2012, a slight increase over previous years.